Review by MPollard
"Jack of all trades, Master of some"
The Nomad Soul, a game that tries to be all things everything - and succeeds... almost. The Nomad Soul (TNS) is combination of adventuring, quake-style shooting and Tekken style beat-em-up fun.
Sounds like it could be a winning formula, and like I said, it is... almost! Which you've probably guessed by the score (you must have peeked - we all do!!)
Setting the scene, you've taken on the form of a police officer named K'ayl and you are dumped in the middle of the city of Omikron - a living, breathing city in every sense of the word(s). Quantic Dream have taken time and trouble in making this city as real as possible and have done a grand job. The city is busy and bustling with people sitting, standing, talking, walking and begging and traffic buzzing about all over the place - which means you have to watch your step because they can (and do) run you down! You can talk to almost anyone providing they are standing or sitting still at the time, but if they do not want to talk to you, then they'll simply walk off and ignore you - charming!! Also, the city has banks, restaurants, bars, drugstores, gunshops, sex shops, strip clubs and more! All of which you will have to go into at least once. Make sure that you do because a guy has to eat.
The game is developed by french-based developers Quantic Dreams and it is typically French. If there is something remotely sexual then it is in there. There are sex shops, strip shows and dancing girls. And the women are all there to be looked at (if you like ogling polygonal, artificial women!)
Getting back to the gameplay - the Nomad Soul has it in abundance. Where the game shines is with it's adventure game elements. The puzzles are spot on although some will definately have you scratching your head in confusion. But, what brings out the qualities of the adventure side is the twisting storyline. What starts out as a routine police investigation evolves into a multi-dimenstional battle of good and evil with corrupt goverments, controlling computers and soul-sucking demons. It's the stuff games are meant for! The living, breathing city only enhances this.
The fighting sequences are also, to my surprise, a lot of fun. The controls are simple as are they various combos that you can learn as your character advances in terms of skill. It adds an extra bit of spice to the game - although it is not (and never was going to be Tekken 3) but it is a lot more competent than most 3D beat-em-ups on the PC!
The games major downfall in my opinion is the quake-stylee shooting sections. Which are very hard, even on easy setting, and are frustrating and cumbersome. The controls are customisable but that does not seem to help. If they were to bundle these sections together and sell them off as a game - I would give it a rating of 3 out of 10 and call it "unmitigated crap". But if you like this sort of thing then it serves its purpose - just.
A unique take on the game is the virtual reincarnation concept. This is where, when your "host" is killed, then the first person to touch your body your soul is transferred into their body and becomes your next host. This gives an intersting take on the game, as each different person has different characteristics so they are good at different things. You can also jump randomly into specific characters in the game - which is nice. So what does this mean? Well, it means that the "Nomad Soul" mentioned in the title is, -- gasp -- you!
Now onto the games technical parts. The Graphics in this game are very good, but not ground-breaking. The city looks fantastic with the city looking huge and alive. The peoples facial movements add an extra bit of life to them - no more zombie like lifeless features. My only real quip is that their bodies look very polygonal, but that is more of a personal niggle if nothing else.
The Sound, well the sound is very special because the music is provided by none other than a Mr. David Bowie. Now I'm not really a big David Bowie fan, but my opinion of him has gone up now - as his music is the perfect style for this game. And it is used to great effect. You can also listen to the tracks on the game by picking up transcans which are the omikronian equivalent to CDs. Or, if you can find them, you can attend virtual concerts performed by the game's resident band - "The Dreamers" fronted by David Bowie and his long time musical partner Reeves Gabrels. These concerts are a bit spesh a worth checking out. Also, Bowie's wife, the model Iman makes an appearence as one of the Incarnable haracters called Iman 631.
So, what do I think of the Nomad Soul? Well, judging by my comments it is an excellent game let down by some minors flaws and one major one - the shooting, it was just not needed and everyone I've spoken to finds it frustrating. An option to skip past it would have been welcome. But, c'est la vie, nothing can be done. Also, the city may be huge, I just feel that the linear storyline - which it is - restricts it a little, but really nothing can be done about that until that day when games can be scripted as you go along.
Graphics - 8: Good but nothing special.
Sound - 9: The music is great and adds to the feel of the game. The voice acting is good too.
Replayability - 7: It may be big but it is still linear so you probably won't find yourself coming back to it straight away. But it will bring you back for more.
Gameplay - 8: The defining factor. The game's adventure and fighting elements are superb but are let down by a lacklustre and pointless shooting section.
Rent or buy?: Buy. Definately recommended.
So all in all The Nomad Soul is a cracking game that comes highly recommended and is definately worth checking out due to its long hours of play that will keep you going for a long time.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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